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Here's Why Patients Are Being Bombarded With Doctor's Appointment Reminders

Medical practices are increasingly opting for new software systems that send automated messages to patients
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by National Cancer Institute
Cover Image Source: Unsplash | Photo by National Cancer Institute

Patients who have a doctor’s appointment coming up may get a phone call, text, or email as a reminder. While it has remained a courtesy for years, in the recent past, most patients are getting reminders in all three formats and that too multiple times. While some patients have tuned out of it, many aren’t happy about being bombarded with alerts. However, it turns out that medical practitioners have their own reasons behind spamming patients with automated reminders.

Representative Image | Unsplash | Photo by National Cancer Institute
Representative Image | Unsplash | Photo by National Cancer Institute

Doctor’s offices are bombarding patients with reminders as financial pressure for medical practices to keep patients from abandoning appointments is ever-increasing, according to a CNN report. Practices lose revenue from patients when they don’t show up for an appointment or cancel them at the last minute causing the slots to go in the bin.

Last year, Dan Sulatan with Bay Dermatology told Fox13 that the national no-show average stood at nearly 20%, and if that rate was cut in half, there would be a huge impact on practices and the business overall.


According to an Artera report, the average cost of a missed appointment stood at $200 in 2022, and across the U.S. the cost translates to $150 billion per year.

Further, as per CNN, the financial hit of a missed appointment varies by specialty, staff, resources, and equipment that were assigned to the patient who did not show up, causing the resources to go unutilized.

Thus, to minimize the risk, practices are opting for new software systems that send automated messages to patients about their upcoming appointments. Healthcare providers often have multiple notification systems, per CNN. For instance, practices may have one system for electronic medical records, another for prescription medications, and a different one from the marketing department, that may not coordinate with each other. This is what leads to notification overload for patients.

While patients hate the constant nagging and multiple messages, they are also concerned that their health data is seemingly being shared in a wide network of doctors, databases, and with some strangers as well.


“All of these systems were built for the provider and were never patient-focused,” Oliver Kharraz, the CEO of ZocDoc, a booking marketplace for medical services, told CNN. Thus, they need to coordinate in order for them to work.

ZocDoc sends three reminders to patients when they schedule a visit but Kharraz feels that even that may be too many as patients eventually tune out and stop paying attention to the reminders.

Healthcare providers are aware of the situation and they have plans to improve. As companies consolidate their notification systems, customers will see fewer notifications.

According to Kharraz from ZocDoc, one way to consolidate the systems would be to have one scheduling appointment, one for clinical information, one to request prescriptions, and one to send bills/payment reminders.

“We’ve recognized that our patients are feeling bombarded,” said Emily Kagan Trenchard, Northwell Health’s chief of consumer digital solutions, in the report. Northwell which had five different systems that notified patients is already consolidating systems and building one synchronized platform to reduce patient bugging.